Hot-on-the-heels of his pulsing electro-pop anthem, “One Way Ticket”, Robert O’Connor shows that there’s plenty more where that came from, with his new EP/mini album, “Severance”.
The 9-track follow up to “Transcendence” (2020), sees Robert step into the big leagues, working with producers Gareth Shortland and Richey McCourt to create a collection of songs that are laser-focused.
As we follow Robert on his journey here at talkaboutpopmusic.com, it is notable that as his confidence as a songwriter and a performer becomes more solid, he himself and his own sound matures to become very much his own and a standout from the crowd. This is evident in the setup of the EP and in the crafting of the tracklisting as each song tells the story from the end to the finale of Robert’s story. And what an end!
Loosely documenting a relationship beginning-to-end, the record kicks-off with a pounding heartbeat which increases in tempo until it moves into “Save You”, a thundering trance track that bears resemblance to 90’s and early ‘00s acts like Chicane and Sash! The hopeful tone of the opening track quickly dissolves to one of despair on “Separate Ways”, where Moloko-esque ominous synths underscore a more serious message as Robert sings: “You put those walls up/and I just can’t climb them, so I look from behind/and still I see something’s up”.
Robert says of this new body of work: “I grew up in the ‘90s religiously collecting and analysing the music of the NOW! Dance compilation albums, and this record reflects that sonically. The music you consume as a child and a teen stays with you always.”
Robert showcases more of this darker pop in one of the many hooks in “One Way Ticket”, a boisterous pop banger that embodies the energy of peak Pet Shop Boys and Bronski Beat, and is the jewel in the crown of “Severance”. Elsewhere, Scandinavian influence is evident on the delicately wistful “Been & Gone”, which tells the tale of infidelity in a relationship, while not exactly apologising for it: “I know I’m the one in the wrong/but you know I never belonged”, Robert sings above a bed of bouncy ABBA-inspired synths. The closing track “The Last Time”, a reimagining of the 1987 Agnetha Fältskog ballad, which is complete with a key-change and extended outro, sends the listener off with a sense that while this might be the end of a record about endings, it could be just the beginning for Robert himself!
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